The Shell Collector

Plastic rustles in my grip.

I smell salt breezes:

One million shells to collect.

I’m ready for conches, scallops,

Fingernails and cones,

Abalone rainbows and

Shells in delicate pink.


The first into my bag:

Fifteen butts of cigarettes,

Littered on the grass

Where my baby sister played

And picked them up.


The next:

A bottle, ready for breaking

Shattering through sand

That soft skin will tread

Ready to be rounded


Into prettier pieces.


And then:

A release of balloons

Flat and floppy

Coloured like jelly,

A terminal

Turtle’s banquet.


I don’t leave the beach

With shells

But I leave it with sand

Clean as conscience.

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